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The Tomb of Zeus
Laetitia Talbot series #1

by Barbara Cleverly

      Wealthy young Laetitia Talbot is thrilled she is at last getting a chance to realize her dream, and become a real archaeologist. Sent by her professor, she is staying at the home of celebrated archaeologist Theodore Russell - and instantly enters into a situation akin to a powder keg with a lighted match. A murder very soon takes place, or was it suicide and if so, why? Letty gets her own dig site but there is probably even more to unearth back at the Villa Europa.

Anybody who reads these reviews will know that Barbara Cleverly’s Joe Sandilands series is one of my favorite historical crime series, and her books can usually be found on my Crime Thru Time Top Ten at the end of the year. Now she has a new set of books out and I wondered what she was going to do for an encore. I needn’t have worried, as this opener more than matches her other books for quality and in some ways surpasses them. This tale owes much to Greek tragedies, and surely nothing could be more fitting given the setting. Ms Cleverly’s tactile evocation of 1920s Crete provides a stunning setting for her story, and it is clear that she has done her research well and got under the skin of the place. It is not a fast paced book filled with adventure, but takes its time to reveal, bit by bit, both sublime discoveries and awful truths of old sins casting some very long shadows. I loved its sense of inevitability, a feeling that there is nothing new under the sun, and the same situations that feature in the old stories are found centuries later. I can’t wait to read the next book, Bright Hair About The Bone, (pre-order US || UK) and think the biggest crime of all is that this book is currently only available to US readers, rather than her UK fans. It will be a wonderful year indeed if I can find many better books than this at the end of it for my Top Ten list. Five star stuff.

The Book

Delta (Random House Inc)
November 2007
Trade Paperback
Historical Crime / 1928 Crete
More at US || UK

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008